Scripture Reading: Acts 27:27-44 (NRSV)
Paul continues to drift with the ship full of crew and passengers as they seek some refuge in making it to shore. It would have been frightening and not a little dangerous as they also began to go hungry.
The experienced sailors try to escape in a dinghy and Paul alerts the others that if they lose them, all are doomed. This may have been a spiritual insight that Paul received or it may have been the common sense that you need people who know what they’re doing on board if you are going to have a chance to survive. When we see in verse 37 that there were 276 people on board, this is not a small ship or a small number of passengers.
|Barely making it through the storms in life
may make you kiss the ground in thankfulness.
Luke writes Paul’s advice for them to take bread as an allusion to Holy Communion. While it would be doubtful that he would serve the sacrament to a ship full of people that didn’t believe, we are reminded of the grace of God that provides us salvation through every meal. It is when we are the hungriest that we are the most grateful for our food.
Once more, we see a centurion cast in a good light. This pagan works on God’s behalf as according to Paul, God’s mission for him is to testify in Rome. We are reminded in this that God works through whomever God chooses!
As I consider the sacrifices we are making on behalf of the coronavirus, I see correlation between Paul’s being cast adrift and our society at large. It seems as if we are floating, waiting for rescue. We know that researchers are working diligently on a cure. We hear that more tests are being made available which will give us a more accurate picture of local health. But for the most part, we can only wash our hands and stay separated.
When we see the passengers going hungry, this reminds me that people continue to lose their jobs. It seems like I’m hearing about more congregants every week whose employment has disappeared. We need to make sure we don’t abandon those who have lost their jobs.
When the sailors hired to crew the ship want to leave the passengers to their fate, it reminds me of those who want to start up society again at the expense of the elderly or vulnerable. The sailors have a duty to uphold even when it is difficult. We all do even when it creates hardships.
It is a reminder that we will get through it together. When Paul broke bread with his shipmates, it united them with one another. As we stay connected, we are united in Christ in order to bring as many as possible through to safety on the other side. Somehow that seems a fitting thought to me for Good Friday.
Prayer for the day:
O God, as on this solemn day we bow at the foot of the cross,
may the love that was manifested there stream into our hearts,
challenging and subduing them and winning from us that response
which is your will for us.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer by Leslie D. Weatherhead, England, 20th Century
Photo by grixti via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.